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Council; the Earl of Shaftesbury warmly opposing them, while Essex and Sunderland were equally strenuous in their favour. .
When the bill was brought into the Upper House, Lord Halifax appeared with great resolution at the head of the debates against it; and “ on this occasion," as we are informed by Mr. Hume,“ displayed an extent of capacity and a force of eloquence, which had never been surpassed in that assembly.” His exertions, indeed, were so signal, that the Commons soon afterward addressed the King to remove him from his councils and presence for ever. But he prevailed upon his Majesty to adopt the very different measure of dissolving the parliament. In 1679, he was created Earl of Halifax. His royal master deferring however to call a new parliament, notwithstanding his promise, he is said to have fallen sick through vexation of mind; and he expostulated severely with those who were sent to him upon the occasion, refusing both the Secretaryship of State, and the Lord Lieutenancy of Ireland. . · A parliament being summoned in 1680, his Lordship, still in opposition to the Exclusion-bill, gained signal reputation by his management of the debates. The Lower House carried up a new address for his removal. Upon the rejection of the bill by the Lords, he proceeded to press them, though without success, on the subject of limitations; and began with moving, that the Duke of York might be obliged to live five hundred miles out of England. during the existing reign.
In August 1683, he was created Marquis of Halifax, soon afterward made Lord Privy Seal, and upon
the accession of the new Sovereign, President of the Council. But on refusing his consent to the repeal of the tests, he was told by James, that though he could never forget his past services, since he would not comply in that point, he was resolved to have all of a piece ;' and dismissed from his employments.
He was subsequently consulted by Mr. Sidney, whether he would advise the Prince of Orange's coming over: but as the matter was opened to him with great caution, he did not encourage any farther communication. He deemed the attempt, indeed, connected as it was with numerous contingencies, impracticable. Upon William's arrival, he was sent, with the Earls of Rochester and Godolphin, to treat with his Highness.
Of the assembly of the Lords, which met upon James' withdrawing himself the first time from Whitehall, Halifax was appointed President; and on his Majesty's return from Feversham, he was despatched with the Earls of Shrewsbury and Delamer by the Prince of Orange, with a message directing him to retire to some place in the country. In the Convention-Parliament he was chosen Speaker of the Upper House, and strenuously supported the motion of the vacancy of the throne, and the conjunctive sovereignty of William and Mary, upon whose accession he was again made Lord Privy Seal.
But in the session of 1689, he quitted the interest of the court, and became a zealous opposer of all it's measures till his death, which happened in April, 1695. When he saw his dissolution, from the gangrene of a long-neglected rupture, inevitably approaching, he evinced a philosophical firmness of mind with much contrition for the errors of his past life, and professed himself a sincere believer in the truth and partaker in the hopes of the Gospel.
He was a man of fine genius, considerable learning, and great eloquence; celebrated for his wit, but censured occasionally for his imprudent exertion of it. The liveliness of his imagination, indeed, it has been affirmed, sometimes got the better of his judgement; for he would never lose his jest, though it spoiled his argument, in the gravest debate. He was, also, charged with being unsteady in his principles. Hume, speaking of him, says; “ This man, who possessed the finest genius and most extensive capacity of all em. ployed in public affairs during the reign of Charles II., affected a species of neutrality between the parties, and was esteemed the head of that small body known by the denomination of · Trimmers.' This conduct, which is much more natural to men of integrity than of ambition, could not however procure him the former character; and he was always with reason regarded as an intriguer, rather than a patriot." His private character * appears to have been amiable: he was punctual in his payments, and just and honourable in all his transactions. He was succeeded in his honours and estates by his son William: who dying without male-issue in 1700, the dignity became extinct in his family, and the title of Baron Halifax
* He was the patron of the Rev. W. Mompesson, Rector of Eyam in Derbyshire, who so nobly tended his flock during the plague in 1666. That clergyman's Letter to Sir George, on losing his wife by it's ravages (which with two others, simple and interesting ones, is preserved in Miss Seward's Correspondence) proves that the patroniser and the patronised were quite worthy of each other.
was revived in the person of Charles Montagu, the same year, with remainder to his elder brother George and his issue male. His subsequent titles of Viscount Synbury and Earl of Halifax, conferred in 1714, expired with him the following year; but were reconferred upon his brother, and finally became extinct in 1772.
The Marquis left behind him the following pieces:
I. The Lady's New Year's Gift, or Advice to a Daughter.'*
This is an excellent piece; containing, as Mr. Granger observes, more good sense in fewer words, than is perhaps to be found in any of his contemporary authors. · II. • The Character of a Trimmer : his Opinion of the Laws and Government, the Protestant Religion, the Papists, and Foreign Affairs.'
In this piece, the noble writer has given his own political sentiments at large; and, if these sentiments are compared with his conduct, perhaps the latter will appear more consistent and uniform than it has commonly been supposed to be.
III. · The Anatomy of an Equivalent.
IV. • A Letter to a Dissenter, upon Occasion of his Majesty's (James II.) late gracious Declaration of Indulgence. • V. Some Cautions offered to the Consideration of those, who are to choose Members to serve in the en
suing Parliament.** :: There are many observations in this piece well
worthy the attention of all Constituents.
VI. • A rough Draught of a new Model at Sea, 1694.
VII. «Maxims of State. * By a Person of Honour.'
All the above tracts were collected, and published in one volume 8vo., in 1704.
He wrote also, · Historical Observations upon the Reigns of Edward I. II. III. and Richard II., with Remarks upon their faithful Councillors and false Favourites ;' and some other small pieces.
From the last-named publication are selected the
following : 1. A prince, who falleth out with the laws, breaketh with his best friends.'
2. • The exalting of his own authority above his laws is like letting-in his enemy to surprise his guards. The laws are the only guards, he can be sure will never run away from him.'
5. • Arbitrary power is like most other things that are very hard; they are, also, very apt to break.'
7. Where the least useful part of the people have the most credit with the prince, men will conclude,
*“ Have you seen Lord Halifax's Book of Maxims?” asks Warburton, in one of his Letters. “ He was the ablest man of business in his time. You will not find the depth of Rochefoucault's, nor his malignity. Licence enough, as to religion. They are many of them very solid, and I persuade myself were made occasionally, as the affairs of those times occurred, while he was in business : and we lose half their worth, by not knowing the occasions. Several of them are the commonest thoughts, or most obvious truths, prettily turned: some, still lower, pay us with the jingling of sound for sense.”